Author Topic: What's up with the Frugalwoods?  (Read 140754 times)

Carrie

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #300 on: March 25, 2018, 04:33:12 PM »
My admiration has waned since finding out one normal salary of two is $225,000. Now I'm not feeling nearly as encouraged that we'll ever be able to afford a modest homestead on 1/3 or 1/4 the total salary of these two normal earning range younsters. Oh well the dream was nice while it lasted. :)

alleykat

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #301 on: March 25, 2018, 05:06:26 PM »
I don’t read their blog often but when I do it is not for financial reasons.  Just to see life on the homestead. I often wondered though how they afforded that homestead and now it makes sense. That is a big homestead and a ton of land. No matter how frugal you are, that is a big expense if your income was just average.

Their representation is a bit misleading, but more power to them for achieving it so young.  I suppose they have to keep up appearances.  The blog is called frugalwoods.  🤣

Having said that, As with all bloggers, i glean what I need and leave the rest.  We all know the established ones make a ton of money.



Captain FIRE

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #302 on: March 25, 2018, 06:48:38 PM »
V impressed to see @mathlete engaging so thoughtfully here. you're a better person than I, but also see https://xkcd.com/386/

For what it's worth, mathlete changed my mind about their blog.  I was ready to defend their logsplitter and oil (although not the cider press...) as necessities.  I felt it was perfectly fine for them to share however much of their finances as they liked.  I thought mathlete and others were harping away and nitpicking.  However, the info about one salary at $225k did persuade me that they have misrepresented themselves on the blog as "standard" and they aren't.  Which is unfortunate.  I still like their blog (though I agree it's overly wordy), but I am a bit disappointed by their obscuring of information.

HappierAtHome

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #303 on: March 25, 2018, 06:53:44 PM »
V impressed to see @mathlete engaging so thoughtfully here. you're a better person than I, but also see https://xkcd.com/386/

For what it's worth, mathlete changed my mind about their blog.  I was ready to defend their logsplitter and oil (although not the cider press...) as necessities.  I felt it was perfectly fine for them to share however much of their finances as they liked.  I thought mathlete and others were harping away and nitpicking.  However, the info about one salary at $225k did persuade me that they have misrepresented themselves on the blog as "standard" and they aren't.  Which is unfortunate.  I still like their blog (though I agree it's overly wordy), but I am a bit disappointed by their obscuring of information.

Yup, me too. Still like their blog, still think they're awesome for living so intentionally, but presenting yourself as being on average / middle-class salaries when your household income is super high... nope. Not okay.

lemonlyman

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #304 on: March 26, 2018, 09:37:30 AM »
I never really took to the blog. Definitely won't now. Being so misleading about how they actually became financially independent when their brand is about how to get there through simple living is lame. If they actually believed they were ordinary middle class, they wouldn't be so cagey about that stuff.

Spiffy

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #305 on: March 26, 2018, 10:22:17 AM »
I just checked their blog to see if any of the comments have alluded to the very high salary part of their frugality story. I didn't look through many of them, but they all seem to be from people with finance blogs of their own. Just drumming up business, I guess.

mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #306 on: March 26, 2018, 10:47:38 AM »
I just checked their blog to see if any of the comments have alluded to the very high salary part of their frugality story. I didn't look through many of them, but they all seem to be from people with finance blogs of their own. Just drumming up business, I guess.

^_^

It seems like just yesterday that I made my very first post in this thread:

I don't think I'll ever not find the ecosystem of celebrity PF bloggers amusing.

They grow up so fast!

tooqk4u22

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #307 on: March 26, 2018, 10:48:25 AM »
There is definitely an insincerity or misleading aspect to it as it relates to income, and I really don't view their blog as a FIRE one so it really doesn't matter that much.  But they definitely over emphasize the average joe (but we are privileged avg joes) and they do write about having savings and being FI. 

I guess the one big F'ing question that I have is do they have enough money to live without his paycheck....ie truly FI, or was this a move out to the wooded estate predicated on being able to negotiate a "work from home" option - to me that would quite possible be the biggest misleading factor bordering on fraudulent misrepresentation.  I mean if he lost his job, pretty sure it will be much more difficult for him to find another given where they are at...although at this point just from the traffic generated by this thread and all the articles and cross-blogging they probably can afforded from blog income only. 


RelaxedGal

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #308 on: March 26, 2018, 12:51:04 PM »
I'm not sure what their annual expenses are but I think they were less than $50k - including the wood splitter.

Correct, $48,058.10 spent from May 1, 2016 to April 30, 2017 at their place in Vermont.

skp

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #309 on: March 26, 2018, 01:34:53 PM »
What do they do for health insurance?  Through work? 

I'm a red panda

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #310 on: March 26, 2018, 01:44:51 PM »
What do they do for health insurance?  Through work?

Probably. She's talked before about how they have good insurance. Since he still works, the family is probably on that plan.


reader321

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #311 on: March 26, 2018, 01:47:23 PM »
What do they do for health insurance?  Through work?

It appears that health insurance at ActBlue is "fully-paid health, dental, and vision insurance for you and your dependents" so $0 premiums for the whole fam.

tooqk4u22

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #312 on: March 26, 2018, 01:50:52 PM »
There is definitely an insincerity or misleading aspect to it as it relates to income, and I really don't view their blog as a FIRE one so it really doesn't matter that much.  But they definitely over emphasize the average joe (but we are privileged avg joes) and they do write about having savings and being FI. 

I guess the one big F'ing question that I have is do they have enough money to live without his paycheck....ie truly FI, or was this a move out to the wooded estate predicated on being able to negotiate a "work from home" option - to me that would quite possible be the biggest misleading factor bordering on fraudulent misrepresentation.  I mean if he lost his job, pretty sure it will be much more difficult for him to find another given where they are at...although at this point just from the traffic generated by this thread and all the articles and cross-blogging they probably can afforded from blog income only.
I'm pretty sure they could live without his pay check and are FI. The rental property in Cambridge throws off $26k in income after expenses and the rest of their incomes could probably come from investments to cover the rest of their expenses even without the blog money. I'm not sure what their annual expenses are but I think they were less than $50k - including the wood splitter.

I fully get why you would think that from their blog but how do you know that:

1.  The $26k income per their site does not include repairs, maintenance, or even a vacancy factory and turnover costs.
2.  The rental income offsets the PITI of the homestead. BTW, $26k income on a $900k house (that appreciated $400K in 5 years).  The would be better to sell the house and invest the difference or pay off their $300k 4% mortgage on the homestead.
3.  Nowhere that I have seen have they said they have a lot of money....they have said (without any details) how they went from $8k to FI - but FI means different things to different people. 

 I think they made almost nothing early on, then made a little money and got more spendy, then found frugality, negotiated the telecommute aspect for him, she elected to work part time too and write....sure they have made good money but it sounds like from the prior posters research the big money didn't start until the last couple of years.  Which is why I think they did the math and said...."hey if we save a shitload of this big money for a year we will come up with a down payment for the homestead, have a bit of cash left over, keep our 401ks intact and work from home. I will bet their NW sans blog and real estate isn't as high or FI worthy as some would think - although its probably much higher now given the low cost living with very high paycheck and blog income.

I don't begrudge that either bc it fits more with their living intentionally message and is akin to MMM's recent post on confidence - that's ok.  But its still not above board and is merely intended to be a story that sells.

Also, I do have a big issue and hate these statements:

"We’ve managed to do well while doing good. Both Mr. FW and I have always worked for nonprofit or mission-based organizations, which has enabled us to do work that we believe in."

There are non-profits* that do good and struggle and then there are non-profits that blow most of their revenue on things that don't really support their mission....."

Also, I think the term non-profit is very liberal when you are talking about a political fundraising group regardless of side but just one more disingenuous part to sell the story....
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 01:56:07 PM by tooqk4u22 »

tooqk4u22

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #313 on: March 26, 2018, 01:56:47 PM »
What do they do for health insurance?  Through work?

It appears that health insurance at ActBlue is "fully-paid health, dental, and vision insurance for you and your dependents" so $0 premiums for the whole fam.

Good to be a non-profit.....add that $25k value on to the $225k salary.

mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #314 on: March 26, 2018, 03:29:51 PM »
Also, I think the term non-profit is very liberal when you are talking about a political fundraising group regardless of side but just one more disingenuous part to sell the story....

Agree with this. There is just something kind of distasteful about ascribing value judgement like "good" to the work of a political action committee.

I say this as someone who loves PBS and public radio, and who has very liberal politics.

And just by-the-by, I really hope that it isn't Frugalwoods types who are in charge of finding a message that resonates more with the common man, or else my team is gonna get washed in November. lol

skp

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #315 on: March 26, 2018, 03:39:03 PM »
I'm wondering how much one would have to pay for a down payment on 80 acres in Vermont and "only" have a $300,000 mortgage.   I live in Ohio and 80 acres around here you'll pay at least 400- 500,000. I thought real estate in Vermont was pricier. - I'm guessing your looking at at least $150,000 down- the price of my house.

Tyson

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #316 on: March 26, 2018, 03:51:20 PM »
Maybe the FWs will end up being a lesson in lifestyle inflation.

calimom

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #317 on: March 26, 2018, 04:04:54 PM »
Maybe the FWs will end up being a lesson in lifestyle inflation.

The monthly spending reports look much like Martha Stewart's calendar - what they want people to see. Seriously, no childcare expense other than very part time preschool? And both parents work at home? There is only so much insourcing you can do. Did they forget to mention the wages for the full time nanny who's stashed in the attic? Or maybe it's a manny, because subverting the gender paradigm and all.

savedough

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #318 on: March 26, 2018, 04:37:36 PM »
I'm wondering how much one would have to pay for a down payment on 80 acres in Vermont and "only" have a $300,000 mortgage.   I live in Ohio and 80 acres around here you'll pay at least 400- 500,000. I thought real estate in Vermont was pricier. - I'm guessing your looking at at least $150,000 down- the price of my house.

$389,000 was the purchase price for their homestead.


ETA:  Easy to find purchase price when you can cross reference pictures from the real estate listing to pictures from the blog.  And this is why I will never have a blog.   I don't want people to find me so easily.  I don't really care if they know how much I make or spend.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 04:39:31 PM by savedough »

I'm a red panda

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #319 on: March 26, 2018, 05:38:04 PM »
Maybe the FWs will end up being a lesson in lifestyle inflation.

The monthly spending reports look much like Martha Stewart's calendar - what they want people to see. Seriously, no childcare expense other than very part time preschool? And both parents work at home? There is only so much insourcing you can do. Did they forget to mention the wages for the full time nanny who's stashed in the attic? Or maybe it's a manny, because subverting the gender paradigm and all.

She's always said she works while babywoods naps or at night.  Wouldn't work with my baby,but maybe it does for her.

MrsTuxedocat

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #320 on: March 26, 2018, 06:01:35 PM »
I have been reading the frugal woods blog for quite some time and I was absolutely shocked at their income level and how they portray themselves.

Gosh, why can't they be just upfront? We earned a high salary, but maintained a frugal lifestyle and have achieved our goals at a very early stage.


Dicey

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #321 on: March 26, 2018, 06:20:00 PM »
I have been reading the frugal woods blog for quite some time and I was absolutely shocked at their income level and how they portray themselves.

Gosh, why can't they be just upfront? We earned a high salary, but maintained a frugal lifestyle and have achieved our goals at a very early stage.
Possibly because they haven't always earned a high salary???

mm1970

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #322 on: March 26, 2018, 06:31:26 PM »
Maybe the FWs will end up being a lesson in lifestyle inflation.

The monthly spending reports look much like Martha Stewart's calendar - what they want people to see. Seriously, no childcare expense other than very part time preschool? And both parents work at home? There is only so much insourcing you can do. Did they forget to mention the wages for the full time nanny who's stashed in the attic? Or maybe it's a manny, because subverting the gender paradigm and all.

She's always said she works while babywoods naps or at night.  Wouldn't work with my baby,but maybe it does for her.

Yes, plus I'm not sure how "part time" she is working either.  I've worked at home when kids are sick - or right now, when it's spring break.  Luckily they are easier now.  I probably could have gotten a good 2 hrs a day in when my kid was that age (not with a newborn though).

calimom

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #323 on: March 26, 2018, 06:45:41 PM »
I'm wondering how much one would have to pay for a down payment on 80 acres in Vermont and "only" have a $300,000 mortgage.   I live in Ohio and 80 acres around here you'll pay at least 400- 500,000. I thought real estate in Vermont was pricier. - I'm guessing your looking at at least $150,000 down- the price of my house.

$389,000 was the purchase price for their homestead.


ETA:  Easy to find purchase price when you can cross reference pictures from the real estate listing to pictures from the blog.  And this is why I will never have a blog.   I don't want people to find me so easily.  I don't really care if they know how much I make or spend.
Jeeze I think I need to move to Vermont as that's less than the price for a delapitated studio condo in my neck of the woods. Wonder what a nice studio condo would cost in.Burlington? Off to Google Zillow!

….or maybe they could convert one of the barns to a groovy living space and you could live there in exchange for childcare! How are you with infants and toddlers?:P

skp

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #324 on: March 26, 2018, 07:38:48 PM »
I wonder if they are exluding property taxes in their budget.  Vermont supposedly has high taxes.  Someone upthread said $8000 a year?  That's about $700 a month.  Based on their reported mortgage on last months reported expenses, I don't think they are including taxes. 

I'm a red panda

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #325 on: March 26, 2018, 07:46:25 PM »
They pay their taxes annually. They complain they are high, but mine we're higher on a tiny property in Iowa.

Under $7000 for the year
http://www.frugalwoods.com/2016/10/11/checked-luggage-and-other-september-2016-expenditures/

obstinate

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #326 on: March 26, 2018, 09:31:19 PM »
1. there are limits to what you can achieve with frugality alone
2. it is far, far easier to reach financial independence if you have higher income (or other sources of money, obviously)
3. there are vastly different grades of FIRE mostly dictated by stache size (entirely dependent on (2))
4. a lot of the community seemingly focuses ONLY on frugality and not at all on the input side of wealth building
5. the bloggers in the community cater to (4)
6. on top of all of that, the FI blogger community in general has a ton of survivorship bias baked into almost every topic (examples: a lot of the community seems to believe they'll never get sick, there is very little attention paid to the  differences between luck-of-birth-date investment cohorts, time-and-effort-intensive frugal lifestyles are probably not sustainable long term, etc.)
Not to pick on you, because I think all of these observations are valid. But I was made aware of the blowback against the FW today and I want to take a look at a couple of these items, which I have also seen brought up elsewhere.

Points 1-3 boil down to something like, "if you have a lot of money coming in, doing things that require a lot of money (non-ERE RE) are easier." Um, yes? In other news, it's easier to get laid if you're very attractive, it's easier to become a great musician if your parents inculcate you in the world of sound from age 2, and it's easier to sail across the ocean if you already have a boat. I really don't get why this is so shocking to some people. Early retirement is at best a distant dream unless you can save 40+% of your income, and for a huge swathe of Americans, that means either very thin living, or later retirement.

Regarding your points 4-5, I can only imagine that this is because focusing on the input is just a lot harder. It's very difficult to give useful advice about how to improve income. And a lot of the advice is fraught. One of the best ways to get more money is to switch jobs to something that pays more, or to use school or training to improve your skills. But those options have huge potential downsides, whereas buying less meat at the grocery store basically doesn't. The output side contains a lot of elements that are either mostly or fully under the control of the person doing the spending, whereas the input side really doesn't. How much I make has a huge luck component, but how much I spend is 95+% my decisions.

And before someone asks me about unplanned medical expenses, well, sure! Bad luck is a thing. But you'll still have $1 more if you buy the $2 eggs rather than the $3 ones. Many/most frugal decisions can be examined in isolation and are purely a function of discipline, which is much less true of decisions that go into improving income.

Point 6 is also totally valid, but survivorship bias is literally everywhere, especially when it comes to things that are popular. I mean, it's almost the definition of popularity in a socially generated medium like blogging.

It's totally valid to wish for candor, but it's also totally valid to consider your income a private matter. If your blog's purpose is to treat the spending side of the equation, then how much you're bringing in seems rather irrelevant. One thing that is important is not to sell something you can't deliver. "Follow my advice and you'll be able to retire in ten years," is not a good thing to say. "Follow my advice and you will spend less money than you would otherwise, and, oh, by the way, if you're in a certain income range early retirement is attainable," is a perfectly fine thing to say, and the income range of the person saying it really has diddly squat to do with it.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 09:33:17 PM by obstinate »

aspiringnomad

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #327 on: March 26, 2018, 09:37:47 PM »
I have been reading the frugal woods blog for quite some time and I was absolutely shocked at their income level and how they portray themselves.

Gosh, why can't they be just upfront? We earned a high salary, but maintained a frugal lifestyle and have achieved our goals at a very early stage.
Possibly because they haven't always earned a high salary???

To be fair that's true for almost everybody. They were likely able to achieve their goals because of their absurdly high combined salaries (by average American standards) later on.

I too lived in a HCOL on 18k a year for two years just twelve years ago. Even saved a bit back then. Now I make 10x that. The experience of being a temporarily poor but upwardly mobile youngin' is a reminder of how little I need to be happy, contributing to my mindset around money and thus contributing indirectly to my current wealth. But in terms of savings and progress towards FIRE, those lean years had an infinitesimally small direct contribution to my current wealth. This isn't to say that you should throw your hands up and give up if you're not fortunate enough to make 225k a year at a nonprofit. Just that you have less room for error and it will likely take you a bit longer, even if you don't pay retail prices for seltzer water.

gettingtoyes

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #328 on: March 27, 2018, 03:36:08 AM »
Wow! You've never seen people flip over a bargain? Seriously? Or perhaps there is an income limit above which one is not allowed to get excited? That sounds snarky, but it's not my intent. I read it like she might have been about to give up and pull the trigger on a new one (see: log splitter, cider press) so she was thrilled to find a used option. I've never shopped on Black Friday, but I hear the giddy excitement over "deals" on shit no one needs is legend. Meh, she can have this cheap thrill. A stroller is not the same as a 100" TV.

Well, I stand by my point that it's unnecessary drama. We can agree to disagree...Sure it's okay to be glad that you got a great deal. But to describe it as though the world will end if you didn't grab this deal makes me roll my eyes.

westtoeast

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #329 on: March 27, 2018, 05:17:04 AM »
1. there are limits to what you can achieve with frugality alone
2. it is far, far easier to reach financial independence if you have higher income (or other sources of money, obviously)
3. there are vastly different grades of FIRE mostly dictated by stache size (entirely dependent on (2))
4. a lot of the community seemingly focuses ONLY on frugality and not at all on the input side of wealth building
5. the bloggers in the community cater to (4)
6. on top of all of that, the FI blogger community in general has a ton of survivorship bias baked into almost every topic (examples: a lot of the community seems to believe they'll never get sick, there is very little attention paid to the  differences between luck-of-birth-date investment cohorts, time-and-effort-intensive frugal lifestyles are probably not sustainable long term, etc.)
Not to pick on you, because I think all of these observations are valid. But I was made aware of the blowback against the FW today and I want to take a look at a couple of these items, which I have also seen brought up elsewhere.

Points 1-3 boil down to something like, "if you have a lot of money coming in, doing things that require a lot of money (non-ERE RE) are easier." Um, yes? In other news, it's easier to get laid if you're very attractive, it's easier to become a great musician if your parents inculcate you in the world of sound from age 2, and it's easier to sail across the ocean if you already have a boat. I really don't get why this is so shocking to some people. Early retirement is at best a distant dream unless you can save 40+% of your income, and for a huge swathe of Americans, that means either very thin living, or later retirement.

Regarding your points 4-5, I can only imagine that this is because focusing on the input is just a lot harder. It's very difficult to give useful advice about how to improve income. And a lot of the advice is fraught. One of the best ways to get more money is to switch jobs to something that pays more, or to use school or training to improve your skills. But those options have huge potential downsides, whereas buying less meat at the grocery store basically doesn't. The output side contains a lot of elements that are either mostly or fully under the control of the person doing the spending, whereas the input side really doesn't. How much I make has a huge luck component, but how much I spend is 95+% my decisions.

And before someone asks me about unplanned medical expenses, well, sure! Bad luck is a thing. But you'll still have $1 more if you buy the $2 eggs rather than the $3 ones. Many/most frugal decisions can be examined in isolation and are purely a function of discipline, which is much less true of decisions that go into improving income.

Point 6 is also totally valid, but survivorship bias is literally everywhere, especially when it comes to things that are popular. I mean, it's almost the definition of popularity in a socially generated medium like blogging.

It's totally valid to wish for candor, but it's also totally valid to consider your income a private matter. If your blog's purpose is to treat the spending side of the equation, then how much you're bringing in seems rather irrelevant. One thing that is important is not to sell something you can't deliver. "Follow my advice and you'll be able to retire in ten years," is not a good thing to say. "Follow my advice and you will spend less money than you would otherwise, and, oh, by the way, if you're in a certain income range early retirement is attainable," is a perfectly fine thing to say, and the income range of the person saying it really has diddly squat to do with it.

I agree with some of this. However, I think that a FI blogger with integrity has two choices: be upfront about your income, or say nothing at all. Using words like "typical" and "middle class" evoke comparisons in the reader's mind. When I saw them write that they have typical non-profit incomes in my current area, I thought about how much they might earn relative to myself. When you unfairly call your income "typical" you are encouraging people with truly typical incomes to compare themselves to you. It is misleading.

Also, why can't I tear myself away from this thread?

obstinate

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #330 on: March 27, 2018, 05:22:14 AM »
Fair enough. I guess that's about all there is to say.

StarBright

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #331 on: March 27, 2018, 08:11:11 AM »
I have been reading the frugal woods blog for quite some time and I was absolutely shocked at their income level and how they portray themselves.

Gosh, why can't they be just upfront? We earned a high salary, but maintained a frugal lifestyle and have achieved our goals at a very early stage.
Possibly because they haven't always earned a high salary???

To be fair that's true for almost everybody. They were likely able to achieve their goals because of their absurdly high combined salaries (by average American standards) later on.

I too lived in a HCOL on 18k a year for two years just twelve years ago. Even saved a bit back then. Now I make 10x that. The experience of being a temporarily poor but upwardly mobile youngin' is a reminder of how little I need to be happy, contributing to my mindset around money and thus contributing indirectly to my current wealth. But in terms of savings and progress towards FIRE, those lean years had an infinitesimally small direct contribution to my current wealth. This isn't to say that you should throw your hands up and give up if you're not fortunate enough to make 225k a year at a nonprofit. Just that you have less room for error and it will likely take you a bit longer, even if you don't pay retail prices for seltzer water.

To the bolded above - this is tangential to the FWs but I think lean year frugality can have more impact than simply teaching folks to live on a small budget. Any extra savings, at any time, allows people to take advantage of opportunities as they become available. DH and I had incomes similar to yours (we were at 22k and 12k), also about 12 years ago in HCOL area. We lived (extremely tightly) on one income and saved about 80% of the other one for a couple of years.

It wasn't much money at the time but when the housing market crashed we had enough saved to get into a starter home w/ a good down payment and a great mortgage. That starter home had a much cheaper mortgage than rents in the area, which allowed us to save even more (and our incomes were starting to rise around this time too).

Obviously we had a crappy economy and a dual income situation that ended up working in our favor (so a single person in a booming economy wouldn't have the SAME opportunity) but saving the majority of small, pittance wage allowed us to get into a position where we can NOW save a ton of good salaries. But if we hadn't been saving a decade ago we would not be close to being able to save what we do now.

Saving4Fire

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #332 on: March 27, 2018, 08:29:20 AM »


I agree with some of this. However, I think that a FI blogger with integrity has two choices: be upfront about your income, or say nothing at all. Using words like "typical" and "middle class" evoke comparisons in the reader's mind. When I saw them write that they have typical non-profit incomes in my current area, I thought about how much they might earn relative to myself. When you unfairly call your income "typical" you are encouraging people with truly typical incomes to compare themselves to you. It is misleading.

Also, why can't I tear myself away from this thread?

Agree.   They are misleading their readers by basically claiming their frugal lifestyle has led to all the cool stuff they have when it's obvious their high incomes are the big reason for their lifestyle.  It's obvious with their incomes they could have their lifestyle without being very frugal.  From a marketing perspective their decision makes sense because the frugal message is going to resonate with more readers.  Unfortunately, it's very unfair to their community and a lie by omission.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 08:41:44 AM by PopMegaphone »

Dicey

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #333 on: March 27, 2018, 08:35:55 AM »
Wow! You've never seen people flip over a bargain? Seriously? Or perhaps there is an income limit above which one is not allowed to get excited? That sounds snarky, but it's not my intent. I read it like she might have been about to give up and pull the trigger on a new one (see: log splitter, cider press) so she was thrilled to find a used option. I've never shopped on Black Friday, but I hear the giddy excitement over "deals" on shit no one needs is legend. Meh, she can have this cheap thrill. A stroller is not the same as a 100" TV.

Well, I stand by my point that it's unnecessary drama. We can agree to disagree...Sure it's okay to be glad that you got a great deal. But to describe it as though the world will end if you didn't grab this deal makes me roll my eyes.
Agreed, but virtually every post is embellished with excessive use of polysyllabic vocabulary. I get that she loves the English Language and is well educated, but I find it jarring that someone preaching frugality is so effusive with ten-dollar words.

For clarification, I don't GAF about their income. I believe it's the speaking over a lot of people's heads style that sparks some of the backlash. She writes in an elite manner that is a distraction to her central theme.

Saving4Fire

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #334 on: March 27, 2018, 08:47:49 AM »

For clarification, I don't GAF about their income. I believe it's the speaking over a lot of people's heads style that sparks some of the backlash. She writes in an elite manner that is a distraction to her central theme.

This is pretty plain English:

Quote
At age 30, Mr. Frugalwoods and I are well on our well to financial independence and neither of us:

    Inherited money
    Makes a ton of money annually (we have normal jobs with standard salaries)
    Won the lottery
    Knows the one weird old trick to retire early
https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/04/26/you-can-save-your-way-to-financial-independence/

They also love to invoke that they work for nonprofits.   FW knows exactly what they are doing and it's very clear they are intentionally misleading their readers because it sells a more accessible message to profit from.   We have people in this thread who are disappointed with FW and were previously comparing themselves to them.   At least in this thread the backlash is mostly due to their lies by omission. 
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 08:49:43 AM by PopMegaphone »

Dicey

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #335 on: March 27, 2018, 09:51:06 AM »
For clarification, I don't GAF about their income. I believe it's the speaking over a lot of people's heads style that sparks some of the backlash. She writes in an elite manner that is a distraction to her central theme.

This is pretty plain English: Which in no way negates my point.

Quote
At age 30, Mr. Frugalwoods and I are well on our well to financial independence and neither of us:

    Inherited money
    Makes a ton of money annually (we have normal jobs with standard salaries)
    Won the lottery
    Knows the one weird old trick to retire early
https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/04/26/you-can-save-your-way-to-financial-independence/

They also love to invoke that they work for nonprofits. Duh, it's what they do. You were perhaps unaware that some people at some non-profits actually earn market wages for their efforts? Shocking!

FW knows exactly what they are doing and it's very clear they are intentionally misleading their readers because it sells a more accessible message to profit from.  Wow! A lot of assumptions on your part. Amazing clarity you have about their intentions.

We have people in this thread who are disappointed with FW and were previously comparing themselves to them. Uh, comparison is the thief of joy? Mustachians are more stoic lot than that and don't believe in comparing themselves to others, aka "Keeping up with the Joneses".

At least in this thread the backlash is mostly due to their lies by omission. I call BS. Their methods work. Their current income is fairly well beside the point, just like MMM's. They developed their tactics when they were earning far less than they do now. So the fuck what? That is the crucial point you seem to be missing. I am referring to you and all those other "disappointed" people you cite.

One of the key themes of Mustachianism, as divined by the great Pete himself, is that finding ways to boost income (better skills, better job, side hustles, blogging, etc.) is key to FIRE. He also cautions not to allow increased income to allow lifestyle creep. This is exactly what the Frugalwoods have done. I am surprised at the outrage, especially on this forum. You know, the one Pete started to foster the growth of Mustachianism? Put another way, why are you condemning the FWs for doing exactly what Pete did and wants he wants all of us to do? Both of them take time to share what worked for them so that others may benefit, if they wish.

Now that I have reached FIRE, I am grateful to everyone who took the time to share their skills and insights with me, a total stranger. I took what worked for me, incorporated it into my life, and reached my goal of FIRE. I ignored the rest (Sorry, Joe and Vicki). Gasp! I even bought all three Tightwad Gazettes and the final compendium, brand new, at a brick and mortar [discount, of course] bookstore, because Amazon and free blogs didn't exist back then. One more beacon of light illuminating the path to FIRE is a good thing, regardless of what the author earns now. It's a shame for the people who can't see the FW book for the tool it is. But hey, if you don't need any help, don't buy the FW book. Don't check it out from your library. Don't read their blog. Don't take any of their suggestions. That'll show 'em.

grantmeaname

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #336 on: March 27, 2018, 09:54:06 AM »
Why all the bitterness? Pop’s post didn’t seem like it deserved that.

mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #337 on: March 27, 2018, 10:33:08 AM »
Wow! A lot of assumptions on your part. Amazing clarity you have about their intentions.

It is true that no one can get inside their heads and know exactly what they're thinking and why they do what they do.

But sometimes, you have to make a determination on incomplete evidence. The preponderance of the evidence suggests to me that they're being willfully deceptive. I think that myself and others have brought forward a lot of good evidence in this thread to support that conclusion.

I don't think they're bad people and I don't think they've committed some great crime, but lots of folks like myself are hardwired to be skeptical of claims and stories that are used to promote and sell you things. It's part of what makes us such judicious consumers.

I have to live in a world in which dishonesty is rewarded. The Frugalwoods and their fan base have to live in a world in which people like me will point that out. It's just kind of the way it is.

westtoeast

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What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #338 on: March 27, 2018, 10:41:18 AM »
Clarifying my points...

I’m not condemning the Frugalwoods because they earn good money at non-profits (assuming those non-profits pay their non-executives fairly too). I’m simply disappointed that they use misleading language to make their incomes seem lower. They should tell the truth or not discuss their income at all. Just don’t mislead your readers!

If the blog was exactly the same minus those “normal incomes” lines, I would have no problem. If the Frugalwoods are reading this thread, I suggest that they edit or remove those lines. Frugalwoods, I love you guys— just be straight with us!

A note on comparisons... I do like to know how I compare to others seeking FI so that I can assess what goals are reasonable for me to achieve on my income. I also like to follow stories that reflect my experiences and situation, as I’m sure many of us do. I’m not trying to “keep up with the Jones.” I’m trying to goal set and figure out what’s possible.

MMM’s income was/is very relevant to his readers. He was clear and honest about what he earned over the years he was chasing FI. I found this helpful. A person can read MMM and say “OK, I’m earning a similar amount in a similar COL area— I can expect success similar to MMM if I use the strategies.” Or they can say “Well, my income is much lower, so I won’t get the same results, but if I use the strategies I’ll still end up in a better position!”

Of course, the Frugalwoods are not REQUIRED to share their income as long as they are not misleading. It would be helpful, but they are not obligated.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 10:51:21 AM by westtoeast »

sui generis

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #339 on: March 27, 2018, 10:49:05 AM »
Put another way, why are you condemning the FWs for doing exactly what Pete did and wants he wants all of us to do?

With few exceptions (the cider press and stroller being the primary ones), almost no one on this thread (esp. in the latter pages) has condemned the FWs for their frugal lifestyle and recommendations.  Most of the condemnation is about misrepresenting themselves and their salaries.  Many of those same posters seem to have taken pains to give acclaim to the FWs for other aspects of their blog/lifestyle.  I think it's important to recognize what people are really upset about, and by eyeballing it, I'd say the vast majority of disillusioned posters here are disillusioned about the misrepresentation of their income, pre-FIRE (not just post).

Eric

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #340 on: March 27, 2018, 11:01:55 AM »

For clarification, I don't GAF about their income. I believe it's the speaking over a lot of people's heads style that sparks some of the backlash. She writes in an elite manner that is a distraction to her central theme.

This is pretty plain English:

Quote
At age 30, Mr. Frugalwoods and I are well on our well to financial independence and neither of us:

    Inherited money
    Makes a ton of money annually (we have normal jobs with standard salaries)
    Won the lottery
    Knows the one weird old trick to retire early
https://www.frugalwoods.com/2014/04/26/you-can-save-your-way-to-financial-independence/

They also love to invoke that they work for nonprofits.   FW knows exactly what they are doing and it's very clear they are intentionally misleading their readers because it sells a more accessible message to profit from.   We have people in this thread who are disappointed with FW and were previously comparing themselves to them.   At least in this thread the backlash is mostly due to their lies by omission.

You have zero idea of how much they made in 2014.  But hey, don't let a lack of facts get in the way of a good witch hunt!

mathlete

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #341 on: March 27, 2018, 11:20:46 AM »
You have zero idea of how much they made in 2014. 

This isn't strictly true since highly compensated employees are listed on the IRS Form 990 filings that tax exempt orgs must complete.

Even without that though, it's a pretty simple exercise to ballpark based on the following inputs:

Age
No inheritance
Claim of financial independence

Early on in the thread, before all the 990 stuff, I ball parked at or above 3x the median household income. I still feel pretty comfortable with that. The numbers just don't make sense otherwise.

tooqk4u22

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #342 on: March 27, 2018, 11:22:18 AM »
Let's put it to a vote - guilty or not Poll 

Guilty or Not of misrepresentation??????

Saving4Fire

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #343 on: March 27, 2018, 11:25:13 AM »
Clarifying my points...

I’m not condemning the Frugalwoods because they earn good money at non-profits (assuming those non-profits pay their non-executives fairly too). I’m simply disappointed that they use misleading language to make their incomes seem lower. They should tell the truth or not discuss their income at all. Just don’t mislead your readers!

If the blog was exactly the same minus those “normal incomes” lines, I would have no problem. If the Frugalwoods are reading this thread, I suggest that they edit or remove those lines. Frugalwoods, I love you guys— just be straight with us!

A note on comparisons... I do like to know how I compare to others seeking FI so that I can assess what goals are reasonable for me to achieve on my income. I also like to follow stories that reflect my experiences and situation, as I’m sure many of us do. I’m not trying to “keep up with the Jones.” I’m trying to goal set and figure out what’s possible.

MMM’s income was/is very relevant to his readers. He was clear and honest about what he earned over the years he was chasing FI. I found this helpful. A person can read MMM and say “OK, I’m earning a similar amount in a similar COL area— I can expect success similar to MMM if I use the strategies.” Or they can say “Well, my income is much lower, so I won’t get the same results, but if I use the strategies I’ll still end up in a better position!”

Of course, the Frugalwoods are not REQUIRED to share their income as long as they are not misleading. It would be helpful, but they are not obligated.

We basically agree.  I don't have a problem with the fact that they make a lot of money or how they choose to spend it.   I don't even think they are horrible people.   I do think they are misleading their community in a way in which just so happens to enrich them.   As evidence in this thread it leads to some of their readers to feel unfairly inadequate.  In short: they are selling a lifestyle primarily based on a misrepresentation. 



You have zero idea of how much they made in 2014.  But hey, don't let a lack of facts get in the way of a good witch hunt!

The source for his income was posted in this thread:


I reserved a copy of the book at the library and started reading through the Amazon reviews. Someone pointed out a link to Actblue's IRS filings and Nate (whose actual first name apparently is James) made $225,000 in 2014, the year that they decided to be more frugal (link from amazon review: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/455097038 )

edit - it's in the 2014 pdf tax filing.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 11:29:25 AM by PopMegaphone »

nippycrisp

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #344 on: March 27, 2018, 11:31:41 AM »
It's surprising to find so much discourse on such a small topic, but I see how this has morphed into a whole character thing. 

One thing that doesn't get mentioned: every PF blog seems to have a "thing". GoCurryCracker has the perpetual traveler/tax thing. The Wealthy Accountant has a tax/business thing. ERE is/was the crazy frugal guy, JLCollins's hallmark is his excellent writing and stock series and MMM has his own style (and these forums), etc. Frugalwoods is, in my opinion, a second-tier effort because their "thing" (farmstead/country life) is just boring/uninteresting to many (most?) people in the FIRE world and probably not hardcore enough to attract real farmsteaders. To compound this, the writing is bland and lacks any real personality. As mentioned in the thread multiple times, the most endearing thing about their website might be the greyhound in a dress.

Now, there's nothing wrong about producing something with limited appeal, but I think lady Frugalwood wants to move into that top tier quite badly. At least the evidence supports it: She's written the book, pours out blog content (much of which is superfluous, both in post quantity and length) and, as discussed at length here, has provided a debatably ambiguous/deceptive financial picture (done, I suspect, to add wow factor for the book's media push). Not hating - it's her job and she probably doesn't have too many options out in the sticks - but it highlights the unique challenge here: after writing a memoir, what else could they possibly say? I have no idea what they could do to harvest more attention for their blog, but it seems like pushing the financial angle may have run its course. To continue as a FIRE blogger, FW needs to find something unique that's not already discussed ad nauseum in the blogsphere (I wonder: does such a thing even exist?) otherwise it's hard to imagine their site as anything more than a rube-goldberg machine that churns out pleasant, trivial posts on DIY piesafes and apple harvesting.

undercover

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #345 on: March 27, 2018, 11:35:44 AM »
Nothing says "Kardashian Mustachian" like this thread.

tooqk4u22

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #346 on: March 27, 2018, 11:38:15 AM »
It's surprising to find so much discourse on such a small topic, but I see how this has morphed into a whole character thing. 

One thing that doesn't get mentioned: every PF blog seems to have a "thing". GoCurryCracker has the perpetual traveler/tax thing. The Wealthy Accountant has a tax/business thing. ERE is/was the crazy frugal guy, JLCollins's hallmark is his excellent writing and stock series and MMM has his own style (and these forums), etc. Frugalwoods is, in my opinion, a second-tier effort because their "thing" (farmstead/country life) is just boring/uninteresting to many (most?) people in the FIRE world and probably not hardcore enough to attract real farmsteaders. To compound this, the writing is bland and lacks any real personality. As mentioned in the thread multiple times, the most endearing thing about their website might be the greyhound in a dress.

Now, there's nothing wrong about producing something with limited appeal, but I think lady Frugalwood wants to move into that top tier quite badly. At least the evidence supports it: She's written the book, pours out blog content (much of which is superfluous, both in post quantity and length) and, as discussed at length here, has provided a debatably ambiguous/deceptive financial picture (done, I suspect, to add wow factor for the book's media push). Not hating - it's her job and she probably doesn't have too many options out in the sticks - but it highlights the unique challenge here: after writing a memoir, what else could they possibly say? I have no idea what they could do to harvest more attention for their blog, but it seems like pushing the financial angle may have run its course. To continue as a FIRE blogger, FW needs to find something unique that's not already discussed ad nauseum in the blogsphere (I wonder: does such a thing even exist?) otherwise it's hard to imagine their site as anything more than a rube-goldberg machine that churns out pleasant, trivial posts on DIY piesafes and apple harvesting.

While I think FW does have a thing (whether its good or not is up to the reader), I think what is becoming more apparent when compared to the other bloggers you mentioned is that the intent of starting the blog was for monetary purpose and its edited and scripted for that purpose....ok.  The others just put stuff on a page bc they wanted to and then it started making money - in some cases a lot of money.

Nothing says "Kardashian Mustachian" like this thread.

hahahaha

Saving4Fire

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #347 on: March 27, 2018, 11:55:27 AM »
Nothing says "Kardashian Mustachian" like this thread.

This is pretty hilarious. 

FWIW, I think this thread has lead to some interesting discussions regarding the FIRE/PF blog universe.  For example, I think the blogger manifesto on ournextlife is worth reading:  https://ournextlife.com/2018/03/21/fire-blogger-manifesto/


I don't think these bloggers, including MMM, are above reproach.  It's healthy to cast some skepticism and ask tough questions when they're dishing out personal finance advice.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 12:01:54 PM by PopMegaphone »

Cassie

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #348 on: March 27, 2018, 12:08:48 PM »
I think it is perfectly reasonable for her to work at home with a baby or small children.  I had 3 boys and they took a 3 hour nap form 12-3 and went back to bed at 7 until first grade.   It gave me plenty of time to work from home.

tooqk4u22

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Re: What's up with the Frugalwoods?
« Reply #349 on: March 27, 2018, 12:42:02 PM »
Let's put it to a vote - guilty or not Poll 

Guilty or Not of misrepresentation??????
I think the problem with a poll is that while they may have misrepresented the income they earned in the years to get to FI, calling it "average, not special, median" etc.., I don't believe it was an intentional misrepresentation.

I believe they really did (and still do) consider that they were average earners with median incomes back in 2014 when they started to save and weren't anything special financially. And maybe they weren't amongst their peers. So they may believe that their "extreme frugality" was what got them to FI rather than a very high salary.

I see this same mind set here all the time with high earners. So many high earners think they have "average" salaries. There is just such a disconnect between them and the reality of most true average income earners. I read journals and post about how they "struggle" to get to FI and are only spending $120k a year (minus mortgage) and wonder if they could ever attain FIRE or be able to live on $100k a year once RE. I just read the "can you retire on $5 million" thread and someone said well maybe if you live frugally. YIKES.


I agree that there is a relativity to it all.....if ones peer group is all a bunch of high paid doctors/lawyers/investment bankers and you are just a lowly paid non-profit executive then you might not even feel average.  But there still has to be some self awareness that you are still above or well above average in general except within your peer group - so I don't buy that argument.  I suspect the average feeling is more driven by the spending/lifestyle part of it...for high earners with high savings rates the lifestyle one lives is for the most part average or less than average in many cases. 

As for the extreme frugality, as I mentioned in a prior post I think their evolution was frugal by need, LBYM when more money was made, then in the 2014/2015 they went extreme frugal at a time when the income doubled with the goal of coming up with a down payment for the farm and having some extra money.....I really believe that they were/are dependent on his income for the move and lifestyle (now less so with the blog income). 

And to your first comment, after paying more attention to their script and specific wording and some of the other interviews, etc, I think it is all very calculated to engender themselves to a wider audience and drive traffic/revenue - and there is nothing inherently wrong with that in of itself other than the dishonesty.  No crime committed, used car sales people do this all the time - oversell the positives, undersell the negatives. So I do think it is intentional but that doesn't make them bad people, just good business people.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2018, 12:43:36 PM by tooqk4u22 »